To turn site visitors into new customers some small business websites provide an online informational brochure. While other small business sites attempt to close the sale online and generate revenue by selling their products or services through their e-commerce site.
With either of these two site models your key is to,
~ attract a new potential customers to visit your site and
~ then to be motivated enough to want to do business with you.
Your site is like your store front that you not only want people to drop by but you want them to come inside of your store and want to buy!
You as a business owner you must determine exactly what you want to accomplish with your site. Is it to generate inquiries about your business via the site or phone, or would you like to handle actual sales through your site?
Most of us know too well that in business, we rarely get a second chance to make a first impression. This is especially true with our small business sites.
Try to put yourself into the shoes of your site’s first time visitor. What is their initial response when they first view your site? Some of the questions that they may have are:
~ Is this company trustworthy?
~ Are they experienced?
~ Are they professional?
~ Are they going to be able to give me what I want?
What is your site’s look and content doing to answer these questions? What is your site’s look and content stating to your visitors about your business? What is it doing to turn your visitor into a customer?
The fact is, that if your site looks unprofessional, piecemeal, out-of-date, or just thrown together, people will probably think that’s how your business is run.
Your business site should be about information first and “look” second. Especially with e-commerce and buying products sites — it should be easy for potential customers to find the information or product that they are looking for, purchases it, and then check out.
So with all this in mind, how can you stand out from the crowd? How can you attract site visitors, turn them into customers, and make your small business site a real revenue earner? Here are some tips to help you:
1. Insure Quality
One of the most important facts about your site is that it is a window for the world to view your product or service business. The design and maintenance should be treated as another aspect of your ongoing marketing effort to the world.
Make sure that your site’s content looks fresh and reflects your business. Sites that are full of poor graphics, colors and spelling mistakes are not the sites that visitors will want to do business with. You wouldn’t send a brochure or a sales letter to potential new customers with such mistakes in them, so don’t do it within your site.
2. Getting Around
Remember that not everyone uses your site in the same way. So provide different ways to reach your information or products within your site. Easy of navigation (the way that visitors get to the things they want on your site) means that visitors may choose the route that suits them.
3. Contact Information
Include phone and email contact details on each page of your site so that visitors and customers have a way of contacting you. This also provides visitors a method of contacting you for more detailed information to help them make a more confident buying decision.
4. Stay Current
Make sure that clear and up-to-date information on your products and pricing are provided. Do you have a new product or service that you are offering? Do you have a recent press release or a current customer testimonial letter? All would make good content for your site. Just make sure that all information within your site is fresh and current, and not a couple years old.
5. Hosting Service
The actual processing of orders is done through a web host (generally a computer “server” not at your business). Your website hosting service makes sure that your site is up and online 24 hours a day and to keep your payment details secure.
In my experience, the best site hosting services are generally found locally and not through a national hosting services. The big national and international hosting services may advertise their cheap hosting fees as a hook to get you to sign-up with their service. Then you may find that their reliability (“uptime”) and support services are not as you had hoped they would be.
Look for website hosting firms that stress their reliability (“uptime” percentage), fast and reliable servers, technical support for you, web files storage space, and your access to your site’s statistics. Cost should be a secondary consideration.
6. Site Marketing
Too many small businesses treat their site as a stand-alone marketing tool. Your site is really a part of your whole marketing package. It should be part of your on-going advertising, newspapers ads, and direct mail.
On the other side of the coin, always include your site’s www address on all of your advertising and on your business cards.
Your site will come to nothing if no one can find it on the web. Check your site’s listing in the various Internet search engines to make sure that your site is listed. If not, submit your site address for their review. Getting your business site listed on some search engines may take some time – from a few days to a few months.
If it is within your budget, a quicker way to get search engine placement is to pay for your listing. You may sign-up for a “pay-per-clicks” (PPC) search engine that may quickly generate visitor traffic to your site within a couple days. With these PPC search engines, you are paying for your site’s listing within their search engine. Generally, advertising rates are low on these PPC search engines. You may be able get visitors to your site for less than 10 cents per click.
For more information regarding how your small business can effectively use PPC listings, check the following articles:
~ Managing a Responsible Pay-Per-Click Campaign
~ Tips for Using Pay Per Click Search Engines
~ Search Engine Tips
~ Safe Bets for Start-ups
~ Getting Traffic to Your Website Yesterday
~ Smart Overture Gambits
7. Customer Information
Ensure that your site is designed in a way to ensure collection of site visitors’ (and thus potential customers) email addresses.
Collecting visitor email addresses is vital because it provides a very cheap way of building future relationships and to for future marketing purposes. Make sure you let them know how their email addresses will be used and always provide your visitors the option of not submitting their addresses.
8. Site Traffic
Ensure that your site is well monitored via your site host (see #5. Hosting Service). A site hosting service should be able to tell you who visited your site, from where, what pages they viewed, and at what time. This is all valuable marketing information that will allow you to further refine your site and improve customer service and revenue.
9. Effective & Efficient
Remember that your site is one of your windows for world to view, thus a reflection of your whole business.
If your site’s opening page takes a long time to load online (display), your visitor and potential customer may not wait — and move on to another site. To most people, a site’s page can never load fast enough online. Look for way to reduce the load time of all pages within your site.
In addition, when a visitor and potential customer gets to your opening page, can they quickly determine the products or services that you offer? Again, if you make them search or guess what products or services that you offer – they may move on to another site.
10. Fresh Content
Update and change the content of your site, especially your opening page, as often as possible, to ensure it doesn’t become dated. Your opening page (like a retail store front window) is the site page that needs to be on target and the most attractive. This is the page that you have to convince visitors browse your site and displays your validity as a professional business.
Lastly, a site is never done. Try to schedule regular reviews of your site by people inside and outside of your organization. Determine if there is a better way to display the information within your site. Is there a better way for a site visitor to get to information within your site? If your site is going to be effective, it has to be continually evaluated. If the site doesn’t change from month to month, visitors and potential customers won’t have a reason to come back. You want to give them a reason to come back to your site.
You want to encourage site visitors to return again and again – and thus provide your site more opportunities to convert them into your paying customers.
Copyright Steven Presar
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